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RIP Charlie Gillett, World Music Pioneer

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Five years ago Link TV sought to capture on videotape one of the BBC's most beloved deejays. Charlie Gillett was one of those great music people who had an unerring ear and a true passion for good sounds from rock to blues to world music. (He quite literally discovered Dire Straits!) He seemed a natural for us to collaborate with, and we sent the fine filmmaker Celia Lowenstein into one of his radio shows with a camera to see what it would be like to film right there in the studio. We were all very excited with the result. Charlie had such knowledge and charm (and as you will see, was also quite a handsome gentleman) that we thought we had the makings of a fine world music TV series. It was only a few short weeks later that we found out that Charlie had been diagnosed with a serious disease that could be kept at bay, but not cured. He discontinued his show temporarily, and we scrapped our idea and filed the tape away.

Charlie died on March 17th. It took some searching, but we found the tape. Here is a brief snapshot if you will, of just how engaging a presence he was, and some of the music he loved.

The performances captured here, while severely truncated, also demonstrate profoundly the kind of wondrous sound that Charlie reveled in. If you like to be bathed in the sounds of reverberating strings and the propulsion of polyrhythms, what could be more seductive to the ear than a duet of Madagascan valiha and Senegalese kora?

To find out more about Charlie, there is a good obit in the Guardian.

Click here to find out more about the BBC radio episode with Justin Vali and Seckou Keita.